When the team at Barrett-Jackson surprised me at the end of our 2021 Las Vegas Auction with a special video and presentation on the auction block to commemorate my 25th anniversary with the company, I was incredibly overwhelmed and deeply honored. It is very difficult to surprise me, but this was certainly one of those moments.
This 25-year benchmark represents endless memories and experiences, and that video initiated a profound period of reflection for me, which I had never taken the time to do before. To relive some of those moments was just so emotional and so incredibly representative of how powerful the Barrett-Jackson brand and what we do is; it impacts people on so many levels.
I was particularly touched that some of the same first responders who benefited from the sale of my Shelby GT500 Super Snake after the tragic shooting in Las Vegas in 2017 were there onstage to honor me.
It’s been quite a journey over the last quarter-century, evolving from a Barrett-Jackson fan to a consignor/bidder, and then eventually to the president of the company. I think this evolution gives me a unique perspective, having been on both sides of the desk.
When I think about Barrett-Jackson and reflect on where we started and where we are today, one of the things that stands out the most when I first joined the company was when we took the bold step to broadcast the auction on television, on the SPEED Channel, which was, at the time, unique in all the world.
No one had ever done that; nobody had ever thought about doing that. From my perspective, I believed television was a great opportunity, and was locked and loaded with Craig and behind him 100 percent when the decision was made to make the auction a televised event.
Looking back on the past 25 years, I think from the standpoint of change, one of the most significant things we did was the decision to broadcast the auction on television. It elevated and expanded our presence across the board in a way that no print medium could have ever done. I would argue without that first cutting-edge, pioneering trip into the television world, we wouldn’t be where we are now in the digital universe.
In many ways, a quarter-century is a long time. Consider the kids who were 15 years old back then, anxiously waiting to get their driver’s license. They’re now 40, with their own kids driving, coming to Barrett-Jackson. In many ways it’s been a blink of an eye, and in another way it’s been an entire generation!
The Barrett-Jackson magic has the power to manifest memories about a particular car or a special moment you shared at the auction with a loved one who is maybe no longer with you. For me, it’s incredible to think about surpassing childhood dreams of simply meeting legends and actually being blessed enough to stand should-to-shoulder with them and become friends. Carroll Shelby. Dan Gurney. Lee Iacocca. It goes on and on.
It’s important to me, however, to not lose sight of what it’s all about. To this day, my first priority and my first love is always driving the passion: It’s about the cars, it’s about the culture, it’s about the people, it’s about the Barrett-Jackson experience. We have created an incredible platform and continue to innovate. Back in the day, who could have ever dreamed that there would be any auction company that sells thousands of cars with No Reserve, setting countless records and sponsored by some of the top corporate brands in the world? A place where classics, sports cars, muscle cars and Resto-Mods – a term that didn’t even exist 25 years ago – as well as the latest generation of collector cars, continually share the same stage?
As a result of our innovations, we now have people in businesses unrelated to our industry wanting to be involved as sponsors. I would argue that we are one of the ultimate influencers in the car world.
I can’t think of anything, in a business sense, that remotely comes close to the emotion we experience at every auction, the ups and the downs. The live energy. The life experiences that are so unique and so incredibly amazing – it makes you so proud to be a part of it all.
We’re riding a rockstar roller coaster wave, and when we strap in at every auction, we don’t know where we’re going to end up or what the journey’s going to be like getting there. Just hang on, hold your breath – and when you’re done? Wow. We did it again.